TranSouth Financial 400 Notebook Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 22, 1998) Some notes and quotes from Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series TranSouth Financial 400 at Darlington Raceway: Jeff Burton must have felt as...
TranSouth Financial 400 Notebook Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online
DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 22, 1998) Some notes and quotes from Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series TranSouth Financial 400 at Darlington Raceway:
Jeff Burton must have felt as if the Darlington gods were working against him this weekend. After dominating -- but not winning -- the NASCAR Busch Series Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at the 1.366-mile oval of Darlington on Saturday, Burton led a whopping 195 of the 293 laps during Sunday's race.
However, the driver of the No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford lost the lead to Dale Jarrett only 19 laps from the finish, and then went on to finish fifth, denying him his first victory of the 1998 season.
"How you run that good and then have to make such a big, big change eludes all of us (the Exide Batteries crew)," Burton said. "We don't understand how you've gotta do that. (Team manager) Buddy Parrott has been around for years and the rest of us are pretty young, but together we don't understand how you make a huge change when you're running and
leading the race. I'd probably do the same thing again because when you're leading and running that well, it's difficult to make a big change.
"The key is that we are close. Over the winter we didn't forget how to race and we didn't forget what we needed to do. We've got to be better at the end of the races. Last year, we had the best car here at the end of the race and didn't have the track position we needed. Today, we had the track position we needed and we were terrible at the end of the race. I don't know. I missed it at the end."
Jeremy Mayfield continues to impress during the early going of the 1998 season. Mayfield recorded his fourth top-10 finish of the young campaign -- a fourth-place effort -- in his No. 12 Mobil 1 Ford Taurus. He led the race three times for 25 laps after starting from the 37th position.
"I really felt like we had a shot at it (winning the race)," Mayfield said. "I know we had a shot at it. We had the car and we had the team, it's just that we put ourselves in a position on the backstretch that we shouldn't have been in."
On the final pit stop, Mayfield came into the pits in first place, but came out in sixth because he had to pit on the backstretch after a bad qualifying effort. Mayfield remained in second place in the standings, 54 points behind Penske-Kranefuss teammate Rusty Wallace.
Randy LaJoie, who won last year's Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at Darlington, wasn't singing the praises of the race track on Sunday. LaJoie, subbing for the ailing Ricky Craven in the No. 50 Budweiser Chevrolet, hit the wall twice during Sunday's race, and wound up finishing 38th out of 43 cars.
"I wonder when they ever paved this place, because it was a dirt track to me all day," LaJoie said. "I'm ready to try it again (the NASCAR Winston Cup Series), but not here. We had a good qualifying effort, at least."
LaJoie qualified 23rd on Bud Pole Qualifying day on Friday.
Kenny Wallace and his No. 81 Square D team have a lot to smile about these days. Wallace recorded his second-consecutive top-10 finish, bringing his Taurus home in ninth.
"The big thing of it is is that the Square D car has done that the last two weeks in a row," Wallace said. "That's what this team has yearned for. My last name's Wallace, and it aggravated the heck out of me to be in the back of the pack. That just isn't our style. We've got a new crew chief and a lot of new things. We had to make a decision whether we wanted this team to be a 30th-place team it's whole career, and we didn't want to."
Don't look now, but a familiar face is now lurking around the top-five in the standings. By virtue of his second-place finish on Sunday, Jeff Gordon moved into fourth place in the standings behind leader Rusty Wallace, Jeremy Mayfield and Dale Earnhardt.
The defending series champion is 147 points behind Wallace, but only 17 points behind Earnhardt, who finished 12th in Sunday's race.
Despite finishing a disappointing 39th, Kenny Irwin still maintains a healthy lead in the race for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award. Irwin has 58 points, followed by Jerry Nadeau with 40, Kevin Lepage with 39, and the injured Steve Park with 18.
Nadeau won the NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Race award by finishing 31st. Lepage finished 34th.
Jarrett took home a healthy sum of money following Sunday's victory. In addition to the $110,035 he is to receive for winning the race, Jarrett won a handful of contingency awards, adding up to $17,000. Todd Parrott, crew chief of the No. 88 Ford, was given the Plasti-Kote Winning Finish Award, worth $3,000.